The first concern with a vaccine to prevent coronavirus infection will be safety, former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Thomas Frieden said Friday.
“This is the first time we've had an anti-vaccine movement before we've had the vaccine,” Frieden said in a podcast sponsored by the online news site Axios.
That makes it important to be honest and open with people about the risks, he said.
“There's already too much suspicion and hesitancy about vaccines, and the way to address that is to just say it like it is and be sure that we're saying what we're doing, when we're doing it, what we're learning, when we're learning it,” said Frieden, who is now the president of Resolve to Save Lives.
One concern is a potential immune reaction to vaccination, he said. “Because some of the adverse outcomes from Covid-19 are immune-regulated, and that raises the theoretical concern that something like the Kawasaki-like illness that you're seeing in rare instances of childhood illness could be a rare adverse event of vaccination,” he said.
Frieden said if a coronavirus vaccine is approved, he’d get one. “If there’s enough vaccine enough to provide for essential workers and particularly health care workers first and it's demonstrated to be safe and effective, I'd be delighted to get vaccinated,” Frieden said.
“There are a lot of hurdles to get over before we actually have a vaccine available, proven to be effective, demonstrated to be safe and widely used,” he added. “First and foremost is safety and efficacy,” he said. “Does it work, how well, for whom, for how long and is it safe?”
So far 25 vaccines are in human trials around the world and 141 more are in preclinical trials, according to the World Health Organization.
But a vaccine will not be the only solution to the pandemic. “I think what we have to get past is the idea that there is one thing that’s going to make Covid go away,” Frieden said.